Looking back, looking ahead: football team reflects on homecoming

homecoming

The Panthers defeated Occidental College 62-0 at homecoming Oct. 13, the largest win margin for the Chapman football team since 1994. Chapman families, students and alumni traveled from across the country to watch the game. Photo by Bonnie Cash

Adrenaline was high in Chapman’s football stadium Oct. 13. Thousands of people, including students and families from across the country, cheered the football team on at its homecoming game.

“The team atmosphere was great before the game,” said Curt Calomeni, senior linebacker. “It was homecoming, everyone can tell there’s a different buzz in the stadium.”

Chapman beat Occidental College 62-0, which Matt Layton, senior linebacker, said was an amazing feeling.

“It’s been awesome, I’ve loved every minute of it,” Layton said. “We talked about (homecoming) all week long, biggest game of the year, thousands of people, so we were very excited to play.”

Spencer Corona, Freshman wide receiver, said the game felt like any other, but it was exciting see more fans than usual at homecoming.

Corona, who looks up to Layton, said the seniors help him with everything, from football to navigating the Chapman campus.

Looking back at that night, Calomeni said it’s sad to think about seniors finishing their last homecoming game at Chapman. But, in the moment, he was focused on winning the game.

The mindset the team had on homecoming night is the mindset they have every game, Calomeni said.

“We want to win and do everything we can do to win and help put ourselves up for success,” Calomeni said.

Tanner Mendoza, freshman running back, said he felt the energy of the fans from the field.

“You really feel the energy of the crowd and everything about it was just an awesome experience,” Mendoza said.

Despite the rain during the game, families and friends of the team came to support the team.

“Both my parents were here,” Mendoza said. “They love coming down and getting to know all the other parents and my teammates. Having them there to see me play was an awesome experience.”

Before and after the game, Mendoza said the coaches reminded the team to stay humble.

“They always tell us not to play down other teams and to take them seriously, because anyone can beat you if you play at their level,” Mendoza said.

The seniors are an integral part of the team, and it wil be hard for the younger players to watch them leave this spring, Mendoza said.

“There are definitely things I’m going to miss about the seniors,” Mendoza said. “They all have certain personality traits and little quirks that make them, them. It’s going to be tough.”

Bitter memories, including the team’s loss against Redlands Univeristy Oct. 6, don’t stop Calomeni from giving each practice and game his all, he said.

“I knew I wanted to come to Chapman. I knew I wanted to play football,” Calomeni said. “I didn’t expect it to be easy. Coming out with that mindset really helped. I got everything I would have wanted and more with this program.”